By CampusDiscovery I love this time of year; the smell of pine, twinkling lights everywhere and the anticipation of Christmas morning. For me, it’s not so much the gifts I get that make me excited; it’s giving gifts to others. Over time, I have learned the art of snagging bargains throughout the year to help lessen the financial pinch around the holidays, but it wasn’t so long ago that I was a broke student trying to complete my holiday shopping using just a few bucks and some clever cost-cutting ideas. If you still have gifts to purchase for friends and family, consider some of these creative suggestions. Lovin’ from the Oven Nothing says the holidays like some homemade goodies! Stop by a local Dollar Tree or other discount store to snag some $1 baskets and gift tins. Fill them with brownies, cookies, homemade chocolate covered pretzels or some decadent Oreo truffles! Attach a crafty card to the box and voila! A couple other food gift ideas include the following… Cookie Jar: Fill a glass jar with all the ‘dry’ ingredients needed for a batch of cookies. Attach an index card with hand-written instructions and list any other additional ingredients needed (eggs, milk, vanilla). Or you could purchase a cute cookie jar and fill it with homemade cookies. Hot Cocoa Time: Find an over-sized coffee cup or mug, and fill it with hot cocoa pouches, marshmallows and a decorative spoon. Memory Lane A great gift for parents or grandparents is a picture frame or photo album. Take photos from your time at college and place them in an inexpensive plain frame from any discount store. Using tacky glue, add beads, shells or other decorative pieces to create a one-of-a-kind gift. You can do something similar with a cheap photo album by covering it with fabric or ribbons. The possibilities are endless and you’ll be sharing a piece of your college experience with your family. These also make great gifts for friends, too! Relax and Unwind Another great find at discount stores are candles. Get several jar candles and jazz them up by adding beads and other items around the rims. Jewelry beads and wire make it easy to create a pretty look without the use of glue. If candles aren’t your thing, consider making a spa basket. Include the following items (all can be found at a local dollar store): lotion, bubble bath, eye mask and loofah products. Baskets always make great gifts and are easy to assemble. Put together a theme basket for friends or family, using any of the following suggestions: Movie Night: popcorn, candy and a cheap DVD (Wal-Mart has them for under $5). A Taste of Italy: Pasta, sauce, bread sticks and parmesan cheese, all arranged inside a colander. Around the World: Include items from some of the countries (or states) the person wishes to visit. For example, pure maple syrup from Vermont, gourmet chocolate from Belgium, or crepe mix from France. The possibilities are endless; it just takes a little imagination and a trip to your local discount store. You can also find great baskets and picture frames at local thrift stores and garage sales for next to nothing. The whole point to gift giving is to show someone you care, and what says that more than something you have created from scratch? Organize a craft party with friends and share ideas, as well as supplies. You’ll not only have a great time with your friends, but create some great low-cost gifts for those on your list! Have some other inexpensive and creative gift ideas? Let us know!